Seminar on the Role of Philanthropy at Nordic Universities


There is a growing interest in philanthropy in the Nordic region. In Sweden, many of the wealthiest families are engaged philanthropically to support research, often through family foundations. Finland has seen a strong development driven by two matched gift schemes for universities (2009-2011 and 2015-2017). A few Norwegians have contributed with large donations to support research, and the first Norwegian couple joined The Giving Pledge (initiated by Bill Gates) in 2017. In Denmark, industrial foundations own many of the largest companies. Industrial foundations are liable to income tax but can reduce tax expense through donations to charitable and public purposes.

Nordic higher education institutions are also increasingly looking how they can encourage donations, by setting up ”development offices” (fundraising functions). Most of the leading universities in Sweden and Finland today have dedicated offices focusing predominantly on major gifts from individuals, private foundations and corporations (and to a lesser extent on annual gifts from alumni).

This seminar will explore trends, challenges and opportunities for the higher education institutions in the Nordic region in terms of philanthropy and higher education fundraising.


Skärmavbild 2018-02-14 kl. 09.50.28Kerstin Tham, rector Malmö University (Sweden) Kerstin Tham is rector of Malmö University. Malmö University acquired university status as of 1 Jan 2018 meaning that there will be a strong growth, especially in research. Malmö University is now setting up a fundraising function to support this growth. Kerstin Tham was previously pro rector at Karolinska Institutet. Karolinska Institutet carried out a large fundraising campaign in time for their 200-year anniversary where they raised SEK 1 bn from philanthropic sources (primarily from individuals and family foundations). After the campaign ended, they have received numerous big donations including a USD 50 M donation from Hong Kong.

Skärmavbild 2018-02-14 kl. 09.45.43Marianne Stenius, former rector Hanken School of Economics and former chair Åbo Akademi University (Finland) Marianne Stenius was rector of Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki 1993-2009. She led the preparations for Hanken’s first fundraising campaign that coincided with the first matched gift scheme for Finnish universities. In 2009-2011 all private donations to universities were matched by the state (each euro matched by 2.5 euro). This coincided with tax relief being introduced on private donations of up to €250,000, thus making the matching even more valuable. The campaign raised a total of more than EUR 60 M after matched funding (compared to an annual turnover of around EUR 25 M for Hanken). In 2014-2017 Marianne Stenius was chair of Åbo Akademi University, during the second round of a national matched gift scheme (2015-2017). Marianne Stenius is also board member of BI Norwegian Business School and Chalmers University of Technology Foundation.

Lennart NIlssonLennart Nilsson, CEO of the Crafoord Foundation (Sweden). Since 2004, Lennart Nilsson has been CEO of Crafoordska stiftelsen. The Crafoord Foundation’s main obective is to support scientific research and education. Holger Crafoord established the Crafoord Foundation in 1980. Since its inception, the foundation has awarded approximately SEK 1.5 billion. Lennart Nilsson is also a board member of The Kamprad Family Foundation, set up by Ingvar Kamprad (the late founder of IKEA) in 2011. The Kamprad Family Foundation supported research with SEK 90 M in 2016.

Skärmavbild 2018-02-14 kl. 09.31.59Henrik Mahncke, head of analysis Realdania (Denmark) In 2016, Henrik Mahncke published his Phd dissertation on the philanthropy in Denmark that examined the role the large Danish philanthropic foundations play in funding Danish museums. After that he became Head of Analysis at Realdania, a large philanthropic foundation. The objective of Realdania is to support non-profit-making and charitable objects within the built environment throughout Denmark.

Bjorn O OiulfstadBjørn O. Øiulfstad, general manager for the Association of Norwegian foundations (Norway) The Association of Norwegian foundations (Stiftelses­foreningen) has around 200 philanthropic foundations as members. They work to ensure adequate framework conditions for the creation and management of trusts, and want to be a forum for the exchange of experience and expertise among foundations. The association is a member of DAFNE (Donors and Foundations Network in Europe).

John KellyJohn Kelly, senior adviser Brakeley Nordic. John Kelly has been advising university clients in over 30 countries (including all Nordic countries) since 1990 on philanthropy and fundraising. The first Nordic client John Kelly advised was Chalmers University of Technology, starting in 1993. Chalmers was the first university to set up a development office in the Nordic region and they carried out their first fundraising campaign in the 1990s, raising SEK 340 M from foundations, corporations and individuals. John Kelly will contribute with an international perspective to the seminar.

johan foto bwJohan Wennström, managing director Brakeley Nordic. Johan Wennström will give an introduction to the situation for philanthropy and fundraising in the various Nordic countries. Johan Wennström has been advising Nordic universities on external relations since 1998, and been managing director of Brakeley Nordic since 2010.

Further speakers will be announced later.

The National Museum of Denmark, 10 Ny Vestergade

10 April 4 pm-6 pm with a following mingle. Registration from 3.45 pm

1400 DKK. Free of charge for universities and philanthropic foundations. Please note that the space is limited and subject to availability.

To register click here.

If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact Åsa Formo at